A court was yesterday told that a Nakuru-based judge and his wife who are in tussle with the county government were conned into buying a public land by a private developer.
Caroline Khasoha, the National Lands Commission (NLC) county coordinator, told the court that a green card and searches cannot be relied upon to prove ownership especially on public land due to the high number of land grabbing cases in the country.
She sought to have the petition filed by Justice Sila Munyao and his wife Linda Chepkorir Ruto dismissed, saying they do not deserve compensation.
Ms Khasoha said the land title was unlawfully acquired through fraudulent dealings at the Lands office in Kakamega, a matter that is set to be investigated.
“We sympathise with the situation the petitioners have found themselves. This is a situation where a genuine purchaser was conned, ownership documents were given illegally,” said Khasoha.
She told the court to exercise caution, saying although the land is registered under the names of the petitioners, the land had been given to M/S Naju Enterprises on July 4, 2001.
However, the firm could not take possession after the Commissioner of Lands reserved it for expansion of Bukhungu Stadium.
“All leases are issued by the Commissioner of Lands yet the lease the petitioners have was given by the County Council of Kakamega. The burden of proof lies with the petitioners to provide the original lease certificate from the person who sold them the land,” she said.
The couple have insisted that they are entitled to compensation for the half an acre (0.2025 hectares) land parcel valued at Sh42,900,000 now annexed to the stadium.
Through lawyer Abok Odhiambo, the couple told the court that the county has been changing their position on the reasons why the devolved unit encroached their land despite having lease documents.
They insisted the land was private and there was no way it would have been repossessed for failure to be developed within 24 months after acquisition.
“Initially, the court was told that the land was reverted back to the county since it was not developed within 24 months after the petitioners acquired it. They later said they land was fraudulently acquired, a contradiction that shows the respondents are uncertain of the grounds they hold,” Justice Matheka heard.
The couple questioned why the county continued to receive land rates and rent even after repossessing the land until May 2019 when the court stopped them from demanding the same from the petitioners.
They told court that they took possession of the suit property in 2012 after the initial lessee, Joseph Kioi, sold them the land.
The couple submitted that a Sh2.5 million perimeter wall they had erected on the land was an indication they were willing to develop the property but was brought down by ‘goons’ working under instructions from the county officials.
“The relationship between the petitioners and the respondents was that of a landlord and a tenant. The petitioners dutifully paid the required fees and their property cannot be illegally acquired without due compensation,” said Mr Abok.
The county government said petitioners voluntarily paid the rates.
The judge will deliver judgement on September 25.
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